The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pegged the tenure of elected state governors to two terms of four years each, but there have been exceptions.
The three governors who have served beyond the two-term limit and the circumstances that led to it.
Rev. Jolly Tavoro Nyame
Though he is currently serving jail time, former Taraba State Governor Jolly Nyame is one governor who enjoyed office more than the two terms of eight years as the chief executive of Taraba State. He had joined politics in 1991 during the aborted Third Republic and contested the governorship position in January 1992, which he won.
However, his tenure as governor was short-lived as the military, under the late Gen. Sani Abacha, sacked the interim government of Ernest Shonekan which was put together by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in the wake of the controversial annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late MKO Abiola. Abacha sacked the government in November 1993 and appointed military administrators to replace Nyame and his fellow governors.
Six years later, at the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Jolly Nyame contested again as a governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and won. After serving four years, he was re-elected in 2003, making him the only individual to have won three governorship elections in Taraba State. Nyame was born on December 25, 1955 in Zing local government area of present-day Taraba State. He is currently serving a jail term having been convicted of corruption charges.
Engr. Bukar Abba Ibrahim
Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim’s story is similar to that of Jolly Nyame. In December 1991, a few months after Yobe State was created, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who is now also a three-term senator, contested and won the governorship election in the state on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
He held that position until November 1993 when the Abacha junta seized power from civilians. Six years later when Nigeria returned to civilian rule beginning in late 1998, governorship elections were held in January 1999 and Ibrahim was again elected governor, this time on the platform of the All People’s Party (APP).
He took office on May 29, 1999. The APP was later renamed All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) due to a factional split. He was re-elected in 2003 for a second four-year term and was one of only four incumbent ANPP governors to retain their positions at that time as the then ruling PDP consolidated its dominance in the polity. LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that during his first short-lived term in office under the aborted Third Republic, precisely on August 5, 1993, Ibrahim split the state’s four emirates into 13.
This change was reversed by the military regime of late General Sani Abacha. In his second term after the return to democracy, on January 6, 2000, he re-implemented the new emirates, adding Ngazargamo, Gujba, Nguru, Tikau, Potiskum, Yusufari, Gudi, Fune and Jajere. However, the then Emir of Fika, Muhammadu Abali, protested the break-up of his emirate and took the government to court, but he eventually accepted the change.
After his tenure as governor in 2007, Ibrahim contested for Senate to represent Yobe East senatorial district in the National Assembly and won. He won the seat two more times, in 2011 and in 2015 general elections, making him both a three-term governor and a three-term senator. Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim was born in October 1950. Like Nyame, Ibrahim won three governorship elections in Yobe State, the only one to do so.
But he will not be returning to the Senate as the current governor will take his place. However, his wife, Hadija Ibrahim, will carry on from where he stopped in the National Assembly as she won election into the House of Representatives in the 2019 general election. LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that Hadija Ibrahim first won election into the Lower Chamber in 2015, but resigned to take up a ministerial appointment in President Buhari’s cabinet as minister of state for foreign affairs, a position she also left last year in order to recontest.
The circumstances of Ibrahim Gaidam’s three terms as governor of Kebbi State are different from those of ex-governors Jolly Nyame and Bukar Abba Ibrahim. Unlike both Nyame and Ibrahim who won three governorship elections under two political dispensations, Gaidam won only two governorship elections he contested, but by sheer providence he took oath thrice as a governor under the current dispensation – the Fourth Republic.
Gaidam is the outgoing governor of Yobe State after 10 years in office. He first took oath as governor after the demise of his boss, Mamman Ali, in 2009. Prior to 2009, in April 2007, Gaidam was elected deputy governor of Yobe State on the platform of the defunct ANPP, and was sworn into office on May 29, 2007. He was, however, sworn in as the substantive governor on January 27, 2009 following the death of Governor Ali in Florida, USA, of a liver problem.
Abubakar Ali, brother of late Mamman Ali, became the new deputy governor. After completing four-year tenure started by his former boss, Governor Gaidam was elected on April 26, 2011 for a second term in office as governor. He was also elected on April 11, 2015 for a third term, which will expire on May 28, this year. He is currently a senator-elect for Yobe East in the incoming 9th National Assembly and will replace one his predecessors, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, apparently to address this aberration, a new law assented by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, June 8, 2018 limits a vice-president or deputy governor, who completes the term of his or her principal, to seek election only once more. The Bill was one of three Bills the president signed that make key changes to pre-and post-election laws in Nigeria.
The senior special assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, announced that an amendment to Bill number 16, already assented to by the President, will now ensure that a vice president or a deputy governor who succeeds and completes the tenure of a president or governor, as the case may be, can only run for the office one more time. Enang explains: “And the fact is that having taken the oath as president once, you can only contest for once again and no more.
That is the intent of this amendment.” Before this assent, such vice presidents or deputy governors, after completing their predecessors’ term, can run for the office on another two terms as was the case of Governor Gaidam of Yobe State and former President Goodluck Jonathan. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan succeeded the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died in 2010 after a protracted illness.
After finishing Yar’Adua’s term, he contested and won the presidential election in 2011 and re-contested in 2015, but lost Gen Muhammadu Buhari. The case of former Ogun State Governor Segun Osoba is an admixture of the experiences of ex-governors Nyame (Taraba) and Ibrahim (Yobe) and former President Jonathan. Osoba would also have been a three-time governor.
He was first elected governor in 1991 on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the aborted Third Republic and was re-elected in 1999 on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the Fourth Republic – just like Nyame and Bukar Ibrahim; however, he failed in his third attempt at being sworn in as governor in 2003 after losing in general election, the same way Jonathan lost his third attempt at being sworn in for a third time as president when he lost to Gen. Buhari in 2015.
LEADERSHIP Friday observes that all those in the category of three-time governors served beyond the ‘constitutionally’ stipulated two terms of eight years as governors, with all three serving for 10 years each.